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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MECHA DESIGN - PART 1

Fusion Concepts.. and Robots that Defend the Universe
I recently showcased a MECHA review regarding the cool Tachikomas, from the Ghost In The Shell anime series. And the peculiar thing about mobile MECHs is that their mechanical designs can be based upon a variety of natural foundations, ranging from crawling and flying insects to quadrupeds and mystical creatures. Even prehistoric animals can be a blueprint source for designing advance MECHA.

[You may need to Click on the "Read More" link to view the rest of this blog article!]

Perhaps the most pertinent issue to bear in mind when designing MECHA is the application of the futuristic robot.
Is it primarily defensive, or offensive? Is it intended to be a transport, or a war machine? Will the need for speed be surpassed by the requirement for rigidity in the form of armor? Exactly what sort of terrain will this mobile robotic machine be primarily traversing within?
Those are all worthy questions to be considered when drafting / designing a MECH. And as the true application of the robot becomes more defined, then you can start with preliminary sketches, based on the preferred form you have in mind.

I recently did a new MECHA design, based upon the fusion of two popular insects. My focal application was an offensive robot, designed to intimidate and conquer multiple opponents at the same time. I wanted to create something that could traverse upon rocky terrain and rubble, since after unleashing a wide array of bombs and laser pulses, the city streets hosting the battle would probably be heavily decimated. Thus, what a regular battle tank would consider "a wall too steep to climb", would be a simple obstacle for my giant robot to glide over.
I'll color this pic later, but I'll let the picture do most of the talking.

 



OK, I don't have any prelim images of this, since I inked the original pencil sketch.

The completed colored MECH image is over here: http://dsngsfm.blogspot.com/2010/09/mecha-design-part-2.html

 
I've been doing MECHA art [without even knowing what category or genre it was] since I was about 8 or 10 years old. In those days, I believed that all MECHs were animals, and animals were the best choice for fusor units that transformed into giant robots... because of a classic cartoon called Voltron.



Form Feet & Legs... Form Arms and Torso... and I'll form the Head:

Voltron Defender of the Universe



Voltron Defender of the Universe was created back in the 1980s by a great man named Peter Keefe (November 16, 1952 – May 27, 2010).
As a sci fi anime, it was set in the future and featured 5 specially trained pilots that were sponsored by the Galactic Alliance to resurrect an aged giant robot in order to defeat the evil forces from Planet Doom that threatened to overthrow the galaxy. The villains [King Zarkon, Prince Lotor and the witch Haggar] also had a ton of giant robots, yet their MECHA units appeared to be contrived by a fusion of mysticism and machinery. On the other hand, Voltron was comprised of five giant mechanical lions, which possessed a variety of colors, unique weapons and abilities.

The special pilots in the original anime that controlled the five Lions and made up what was tagged as The Lion Voltron Force were named:

Kieth [leader, pilot of the Black Lion - the torso and head]
Lance [Pilot of the Red - the right arm]
Pidge [Pilot of the Green Lion - the left arm]
Sven [original second-in-command. Pilot of the Blue Lion]
Princess Allura [Substitute Pilot of the Blue Lion - the right leg]
Hunk [Pilot of the Yellow Lion - the left leg]

The appearance of each lead character was just as diverse as their personalities. Each of the Lions was located in a different section of the heroic Planet Arus [such as the jungle, the volcano, the seabed etc], and the MECHA units were usually reached by traveling within deeply tunneled subway-like chambers. These smooth winding chambers were outfitted with bobsled-styled units for conveying the seated pilots away from the royal palace of King Alfor to the location of the hidden robotic creatures.

It is noteworthy to recall the fact that the palace of King Alfor was very uniquely designed. It was strikingly archaic on its exterior, but highly modernized in its interior, having futuristic computers and automated gadgets.

While many of the future giant robots drafted in the 1990s and 2000s utilized giant blasters and cannons as their main weapon, Voltron's focal weapon of choice was a peculiar flashing energy sword that materialized into a giant tangible blade, which could cut advanced, thick, metal alloys with diamond precision.


The original TV series aired in syndication and ran from September 10, 1984 to November 18, 1985. And it had a stunning 124-episode run. A host of toys and collectibles were spawned from the franchise and Voltron truly became a stunning worldwide phenomenon. Most of the people that watched the Voltron series outside of Japan were not even aware that they were being introduced to anime, during a period that DBZ was still a globally unknown series [Dragonball Z was still just a manga comic at the time that Voltron was reigning on the airways].

There have been a few reinterpretations of the highly successful franchise over the years, but none of them came close to the original cartoon in terms of addictive appeal or fascination.

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